Bresha Meadows Case Calls Attention to Incarcerated Domestic Violence Survivors

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From Teen Vogue:

Bresha Meadows has been in jail for 175 days, accused of killing her father. Police say she took a gun and shot her father in the head while he was sleeping. Bresha is awaiting trial on charges of aggravated murder, but her mother says she’s not a criminal — she’s a hero. That’s why organizers have put together a National Day of Action in her name, with hopes to #FreeBresha.

Bresha and her family say her father was verbally and physically abusive to them, so much so that they feared he would one day kill them. Before he died in August, Bresha had been speaking up about her father’s abuse for months, even running away from home and telling her relatives that her father might kill the whole family. Bresha’s mother, Brandi, had once made similar claims against her husband in an order of protection against him, saying if he found her and her children, she thought he would kill them. In court, Bresha pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder, but she’s been in jail awaiting trial since.

With an appearance in court scheduled for Jan. 20, Bresha’s supporters are rallying for her release and the charges against her to be dropped. That’s not all, though. Bresha is one of many who are criminalized for surviving domestic violence. The Correctional Association of New York found that 67% of women accused of killing someone close to them had been abused by that person. Of all the state’s inmates in for any charge, 75% had experienced severe physical domestic violence.

“All too often the criminal justice system’s response to DV survivors who act to protect themselves from an abuser’s violence is to send them to prison, often for many years,” a report by the Women in Prison Project of the Correctional Association of New York said. “This represents a shameful miscarriage of justice. Instead of giving survivors who have suffered life-shattering abuse compassion and assistance, we give them harsh punishment and prison. Instead of providing protection, the criminal justice system becomes just one more entity in the continuum of violence in survivors’ lives.”

BuzzFeed points out that another common issue is women who are victims of domestic violence being sent to prison when their abusive partner murders their child. The women go to prison not for helping commit murder, but for not being able to do anything about it.

Bresha’s supports are rallying for her and for everyone like her who has been punished for surviving violence. That’s why they are asking you join her #FreeBresha action day on Jan. 19, and the #SurvivedandPunished Week of Action from Jan. 19 to the 27 in an effort to gain awareness for survivors who are incarcerated and rally for their release.

Bresha’s uncle has denied her claims her father abused the family.

If you want to join, here are some ideas on how you can help.

 

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